Disclaimer: I do not speak for all autistic people, but these are some common things a lot of us have said to us which we find frustrating!
1. You don’t look autistic. What exactly is an autistic person meant to look like? Do enlighten me. Because you can never tell if someone is autistic just by looking at them.
2. You’re not like my [nephew/son/cousin/friend etc] who has autism. And you’re not like my neurotypical friend either. Everyone is different, even autistic people. And everyone’s autism presents differently!
3. You appear so much more autistic since you were diagnosed, it’s almost like you’re putting it on. This is called unmasking. Slowly stopping acting neurotypical which has been so exhausting. Learning to be yourself. This is a good thing if autistic people are able to do this.
4. Everyone seems to be getting diagnosed with autism these days. Firstly, that’s not true. If you’re saying this, it’s likely you aren’t diagnosed. If you’re talking about the rise in diagnoses, then yes, autism is becoming more understood and recognised. Again, good.
5. Don’t define yourself by your diagnosis. You have autism, you’re not autistic. You’re so much more than that! I am autistic just like I am right-handed. I don’t need to be ‘more than it’ because it isn’t a bad thing. It makes me who I am.
6. Everyone is a little bit autistic, really. This is incredibly invalidating if someone shares their diagnosis with you because living life as an autistic person is a very different experience. You might share some traits, but that’s because we’re all humans!
7. Are you high or low functioning? Functioning labels are not helpful terms. High functioning ignores need and low functioning ignores autonomy. Plus it doesn’t describe someone’s actual needs. Explain. For example, non-speaking, learning disabled, sensory seeking etc.
8. It’s not fair to other people if you have adjustments. Autistic people are legally entitled to reasonable adjustments. Just because it might not seem something is hard, doesn’t mean it doesn’t take every ounce of energy I have. Let me start on an even playing field.
9. ABA is a really important therapy for children with autism. ABA is harmful to so many autistic people. It might appear to show ‘good’ results but it causes autistic children to mask, ignore their needs, and force themselves to act neurotypical when they are not.
10. You shouldn’t need a label to describe yourself. You’re just you! Autism isn’t a label. It is who I am. It is also a disability. I need adjustments and support. And knowing I am autistic allowed me to forgive myself for so many things I used to blame myself for.
Are you autistic? Have these things been said to you? If so, how did that make you feel? And is there anything else that you are fed up of hearing?